A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, as with the first book in the series, this one gives an interesting picture of social conditions in the 19th century and contrasts modern and Victorian speech.The part-thriller, part-comic story scores with romance fans, especially those who enjoyed the first two books. Cooney keeps the story moving.
What's the story?
This time Annie's brother Tod becomes the time traveler, and welcome comic relief, in this continuation of the Stratton family fantasy. Tod finds himself falling back in time to meet the lovely Devonny, Strat's sister. Her father is forcing her to marry the shallow Lord Hugh-David Winden. She begs Tod to save her. Tod decides he should try, fades into Devonny's wedding, and snatches her away to the present as she's walking down the aisle.
Meanwhile, Devonny's friend Flossie has fallen in love with an Italian stonecutter and elopes. But her parents know of her plans and have the boy kidnapped and imprisoned on a ship going back to Italy. At first embarrassed, then feeling guilty, Lord Winden helps find Flossie and her fiancÃ©. But Mr. Stratton imprisons Devonny's mother in his attic, intending her to live there for decades. Can Tod and Devonny save her?
Is it any good?
The book will appeal to those who enjoyed the earlier ones, and its history will interest romantically inclined readers. No one could call it literature, but many kids will love it and learn from it.
Another time traveling teenager, and more romance, gothic imprisonments, kidnappings, and greed continue the Stratton family story. But this time Caroline Cooney has some fun with it. She provides comic relief by using Annie's younger brother as the link between the present and the past. The story still relies on gothic elements. Devonny's father compels her to marry a greedy English lord for his title. When he shuts up her mother in the attic, we can almost see him chuckling and grinning and twirling the end of his mustache as the standard Victorian villain.
However, a few of the characters grow a bit. Lord Winden realizes he's behaved less than honorably, and prods himself into standing up to his gorgon-like mother. Devonny changes her attitude toward Lord Winden.